It’s time for a Labor/Greens pact on climate change

bradkerin Market Intelligence

by Peter Castellas, Chief Executive Officer of the Carbon Market Institute.


Australia needs a coalition of the climate willing.

With less than eight months to go before a Federal election, the two main parties out of government should do the right thing for Australia and commit to work together on crafting and supporting each other on effective climate policy. 

Many would agree that the Coalition Government does not instill confidence that it is committed to implementing effective policies to reduce absolute emissions across the economy and meet its own Paris target.  The small vocal brigade of irresponsible climate sceptic MPs will maintain their ideological, destructive campaign. Although business groups like CMI would love to see and support it, the Morrison Government are unlikely to find the political will to take a strong climate action position to the next election.  Sadly, a bipartisan agreement between the Coalition and Labor is increasingly becoming a forlorn hope.

Therefore, I think it is up to Labor, the Greens and indeed, any independent or minor party to come together and agree a climate policy platform ahead of the next election. It is in our national interest for this to happen.

Bill Shorten and Richard Di Natale could send a strong market signal by putting substance behind their climate action intentions and outline a pact that states how they will support each other in developing and implementing climate policies that meet with our international commitments and drive economic, environmental and social benefits to voters. Many businesses and large parts of the community are despondent due to the lack of political leadership on climate change and so this is the time for these two significant parties to establish credibility and be true to their values and party ethos.

There is a precedence for Labor, Greens and independents working together on climate change, which in 2010, lead to the most comprehensive economy-wide approach to addressing climate change. The Multi-Party Climate Change Committee (MPCCC) was established under the Gillard Government to help build consensus on how Australia should tackle climate change. The MPCCC, with expert advice from people like Ross Garnaut, produced the framework for the Carbon Pricing Mechanism, the establishment of the CEFC, ARENA, the Clean Energy Regulator, committed funds to research for carbon farming, provided energy efficiency and cleantech investment grants and financial support for households, communities and regions. Not bad eh? 

An MPCCC 2.0 could contemporise, reboot and refine some of these initiatives and go to the election knowing that broad agreement has been reached. Mark Butler and Adam Bandt could lead such a process now to establish the targets, emissions reduction gateways and the broad policy approach. If Labor won government, they could flesh out the detail, with the Green’s support, knowing a likely majority of members of the lower and upper house will support the policies. Both Labor and the Greens would win votes with this approach.

However, if Labor and the Greens play political games and point scoring over climate change in the lead up to the election it will undermine the ability to secure the policies needed should there be a change of government at the next election. They must put their constituents and their children ahead of a combative approach to climate policy and fight it out at the ballot box on other issues.

Any political party that advocates and implements a constructive approach to developing long-term climate and energy policy that is aligned with the global emissions reduction trajectory and sends the right carbon price signals will get business and finance support. Vision, leadership and credibility will be needed to sell it to the voting public.

Bill, Richard, what do you think? You up for it?